The Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by revered Catholic nun Mother Teresa, has deregistered 13 orphanages from adoption services in India because new laws permitting divorced persons to adopt "hurt" the faith-based charity's "conscience".
According to NPR, Nirmala Shishu Bhawan, the Missionaries' network of homes, provides shelter, food, medical care and schooling to abandoned and destitute children, including those with special needs across India. The organization decided to end adoption services on Aug. 1, after revised guidelines were notified in July making single parents eligible to adopt through online registration of prospective parents.
The secretary of India's central adoption agency, Veerendra Mishra, told The Indian Express newspaper that the organization objected to the prospect of single women and divorced parents adopting children, according to the new guidelines.
"First, [Missionaries of Charity] will not allow adoption by single parents; second, they also have issues with couples, one or both of whom has had a divorce earlier," he said. "They have cited ideological issues with our adoption guidelines, related to giving a child up for adoption to single, unwed mothers. They do not want to come under a uniform secular agenda."
Speaking about the decision not to offer adoptions in light of the country's liberalized adoption policy, Sister Amala, the nun in charge at the Missionaries' home in North Delhi, told local media: "The new guidelines hurt our conscience. They are certainly not for religious people like us. ... What if the single parent who we give our baby [to] turns out to be gay or lesbian? What security or moral upbringing will these children get? Our rules only allow married couples to adopt."
She added, "We have already shut our adoption services, because we believe our children may not receive real love. We do not wish to give children to single parents or divorced people. It is not a religious rule but a human rule. Children need both parents, male and female. That is only natural, isn't it?"
Another sister at the Catholic missionary society told NPR that the organization had been thinking "for some time" about shutting down its adoption services in order to "look after special needs children who had not been adopted." She added, "It was a well-thought out discussion."
According to The Telegraph of India, most adoptions of India's estimated 20 million orphans happen illegally, abandoned children being exchanged without a government-recognized intermediary.
Additionally, an earlier adoption policy allowed orphanages around the country to handpick parents and match them with children. However, the process operated was "plagued by corruption, trafficking, delays, favoritism and prejudice," according to the Washington Post.